Tag Archive | Maine Coon

Penny’s Journey to Her First Remission from Feline Diabetes

For more about our introduction to feline diabetes, read here … Our Introduction to Feline Diabetes .

The first thing I learned was that it was TOO dangerous to blindly shoot insulin into my cat without home testing.

Pennys BGs after switching to Lev

FINALLY we were seeing the food changes and insulin take effect!

The second thing I learned is that there is more effective and SAFER insulin for cats in the US & Canada than Vetsulin.

The third thing I learned was that a FOOD CHANGE to LOW CARBOHYDRATE food was our ONLY chance at regulation and remission. There are a few diabetic “prescription” foods out there for diabetic cats. BUT, they are all high carb and full of JUNK ingredients.

Feeding high-carbohydrate foods to a diabetic cat, or a diabetic human, for that matter, is like putting fuel on a fire and hoping it extinguishes the fire.

Does that make sense?

I was told to feed low-carb wet food, such as Fancy Feast Classics or Friskies Pates. But, I have a kibble addict on my hands. I’ll be honest and admit I didn’t try very hard to switch her over to an all-wet food diet because she tends to have loose stools, diarrhea, and hairball problems (she IS a Maine Coon who doesn’t like to be brushed, after all lol) when she eats only wet food. She does much better overall on half-wet, half-dry.

So I decided to try this ultra low carb dry food that’s touted to help diabetic cats achieve remission called Young Again Zero (carb). It’s available online-only, so in the meantime, while I was waiting for her new food to arrive, I worked on learning how to home test Penny and talking her vet into switching her to Lantus, which is considered a much safer and more effective insulin for cats than Vetsulin.

When I called her vet that Monday morning after she had the strong reaction to Vetsulin, I called armed with everything I learned from Feline Diabetes Message Board and also what the AAFP (American Association of Feline Practitioners) recommends as a first course of treatment for feline diabetes.

Lucky for us and my vet, Dr Moreno is not an egomaniac, is open-minded and willing to listen as he knew I was smart and did my research, So he gave me a prescription for Lantus pens and the U100 syringes to draw out the insulin (often cats need half-unit or quarter-unit doses so the needles that come with the pens are useless for a cat) and agreed to try a diet change for just a short while before re-starting insulin until we learn to home test.

I went to Walmart and got her testing supplies. They can be expensive when you’re paying cash, but everybody I talked to over the weekend told me to get the Relion Confirm meter and strips, which are MUCH less expensive than most human testing supplies.

Then, we had to learn to home test.

And I was terrified and not really sure we would be able to do this.

But I didn’t want Penny to go into insulin shock and die or become debilitated, either.

However, this is a cat that I cannot even BRUSH without her swatting at me.

And I’m gonna poke her ears several times a day to “play vampire”? lol

WITHOUT ending up in the hospital??!!

But all my new friends online ASSURED me that we could do this!

Penny working out with me Nov 2013

Penny “working out” with me! You see who’s getting all of the exercise, right?

My friend Kay sent me this thing she wrote up about ear testing. She had a semi-feral cat and she learned to condition HIM. This really helped me to form a plan on how I was going to “train” Penny for home testing. Read Kay’s Ear Testing Psychology.

What I know about Penny is that BRIBERY will get me EVERYWHERE with her and I can condition her to do just about ANYTHING so long as there’s raw chicken waiting for her! So that’s what I used to condition her to home test.

Here are two videos I made on training Penny to test her blood glucose.

How I Conditioned My Cat for Home Blood Glucose Testing

Home Testing a Diabetic Cat’s Blood Glucose

I did my first successful home test while she was sleeping… lol. But, awake? It took about seven days of conditioning her like my videos show you before we were testing.

By then, the new kibble was here and thank God both cats LOVED it! And they tolerated the abrupt food change very well!

The change in Penny’s energy once I got her on the Young Again food was REMARKABLE! She was a NEW cat and we hadn’t even gotten her diabetes regulated yet!

So, we started Penny on .5 units of Lantus twice per day, were home testing, and she was a CHAMP about the testing and the shots, as long as I shot her insulin WHILE she was eating. I learned VERY quickly that I cannot give this cat a needle unless she’s eating something scrumptious! Then, the house can crash down around her and she won’t even NOTICE!

We set up a spreadsheet on Google Docs that FDMB had created a template for…that way my vet could just pop in and see her blood glucose numbers at any time. Here’s Penny’s spreadsheet. Click on the 2013-2015 tab to see how it looked in the beginning. Penny’s Blood Glucose Numbers

And we followed something called Start Low Go Slow Method since I was still REALLY new to all of this and was afraid she would go into insulin shock at some point.

Things were going really well until about three weeks in, when all of a sudden, Penny started being really difficult with her shots…like, she would JUMP a mile when I attempted to give her a shot. It was becoming IMPOSSIBLE to get insulin into this cat! I should mention that she had also started acting a little crazy and had started howling in the wee hours of the morning.

So I went back to the Message Board and the Feline Diabetes FB page and posted questions and started researching Lantus just a little bit more.

Turns out a small fraction of cats, and OF COURSE my Penny, are very sensitive to the sting on injection with Lantus because Lantus is VERY acidic. Everybody said with the little bit she was getting that she “shouldn’t be” feeling it, but she WAS.

AND HOW!

Lantus can also make SOME cats, but not many, just a little crazy. Apparently, Penny likes to be the exception and not the rule!

So, my friend Gayle strongly suggested we switch her from Lantus to Levemir, which is another slow-acting insulin with “flat curves”…which is what you want for a cat. When their “curves” are flatter, there’s better control overall and less risk of insulin shock or a “hypo” (hypoglycemia).

So BACK to Dr Moreno for ANOTHER prescription! Again, thank God he’s a pretty easygoing vet and I suspect he lets me have my way (within reason) so that he can shut me up! lol

Obviously, Levemir is “the” insulin for Penny because within a month of switching to Levemir, Penny’s OTJ Trial had begun!

“OTJ” means “Off The Juice” or off insulin. The trial is done for 14 days and if your cat can maintain blood glucose numbers mostly in the “normal” range (generally 50-150, depending on who you ask) in that trial period, they are considered “in remission” or “diet controlled”.

I was a NERVOUS FREAKING WRECK during that two-week trial. I would SHAKE when I tested her blood glucose because she was STILL giving me trouble with shots and I wanted SO BADLY for her to pass this trial!

Penny and Weeny Oct 2013

Penny & Weeny a couple of days after Penny went into diabetic remission!

And on November 15, 2013, Penny PASSED her OTJ Trial and was OFFICIALLY in remission!!

But, it wouldn’t last….

Because NOTHING is ever typical or easy with Penny!

More to come!

Our Introduction to Feline Diabetes

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Penny, 2014, in all her scruffy splendor!

One of the main reasons why I decided to start this blog was to help raise awareness about Feline Diabetes. Because I hear my aunt saying she feeds her cat potato chips and ice cream. And if I see ONE MORE video of a cat eating something completely species-inappropriate and carb-laden on Facebook, I’m going to gouge my eyeballs out. Because I’m SICK of seeing Diabetic Cats in Need pulling yet another diabetic cat from a kill shelter at the LAST HOUR because an owner fed their cat high carb dry food, maybe even made the cat obese, and then dumped that poor baby off at the shelter…or worse yet, euthanized them on diagnosis because feline diabetes is “too hard” or too expensive for a pet parent to handle.

As I sit and type with “Smelly Penelly” cleaning herself next to me right now, she is in her TENTH MONTH of her SECOND remission. Her blood glucose reading yesterday, WITHOUT insulin, was 58 about an hour post-meal. Which is an excellent number for a diet-controlled diabetic cat. “Diet-controlled” meaning that with the right low-carb food, her blood glucose is able to stay in the “normal” range without insulin. Penny eats Young Again Zero (Carb) and Fancy Feast Classics Pate wet food.

I’m not sure WHERE I’m going with this post yet, but this will likely be the beginning of an entire category on this blog with Penny’s journey with both feline diabetes and feline chronic kidney disease, with a little bit of spinal arthritis and dental issues thrown in for fun.

I remember when I first adopted Penny from Jersey State Animal Rescue on May 2, 2012. And the director told me to buy one of two different types of food. One was an internet-only food that for the life of me I cannot remember the name of, and the other was Solid Gold Indigo Moon. Solid Gold was one of those “premium” pet foods and back in 2012 it was relatively low carb for a cat kibble. They have since changed the formula and it’s much higher now. And I remember thinking, because I know some things about HUMAN nutrition, “but cats needs carbs for energy!” So I added in Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul adult dry food and mixed the two. And she also got four wet mini meals throughout the day.

Getting that high carb Chicken Soup food was a BIG BIG mistake…

Summer of 2013, I KNEW well before I took her to the vet and she was diagnosed. I come from a LONG line of diabetics, including my dad, and knew what the symptoms were because they are about the same in cats. Frequent urination, incessantly thirsty, constantly hungry. She hadn’t experienced weight loss yet but I acted somewhat quickly once I could no longer justify why I was seeing LAKES in their litter boxes.

On September 5, 2013, with an in-office blood glucose reading of 516 (normal is 50-150 depending on the meter), Penny was diagnosed with Feline Diabetes. And at the time, DEVASTATED was NOT even CLOSE to describing how we felt at the vet’s office. I knew a little about the treatment of feline diabetes because I had come across the Feline Diabetes Message Board online a couple of years earlier when I researching constipation issues for my late cat, Tabby.

And I didn’t want to put Penny through getting needles twice per day, home testing her blood glucose, glucose curves and all this other stuff that seemed just SO complicated at the time and I remember thinking, “That is NO quality of life for cats!”

Until I was faced with her diagnosis when she was only FIVE years old and knowing full well it was either treat or put to sleep. I remember freaking out, bawling, and telling the vet that I didn’t have time for home testing and all that jazz and how was I gonna give her insulin injections when she was so difficult to handle that I couldn’t even brush her?

Pennys BG 10.3.13

The very first day that I managed to get Penny’s blood glucose down below “renal threshold”…which is a very good thing!!

He assured me that I could successfully give her injections while she was eating, had a vet tech come in to show me how and let me do a practice shot with an insulin syringe full of water. He told me that home testing was not necessary and that we could bring her back in for a fructosamine test (think kind of like a human H A1c test) in about a week and he would adjust her insulin from there. He didn’t think a dietary change was a good idea until we had gotten her insulin requirement down pat and got her blood glucose in a safer range.

I must say at this point that I did ask him how often they’ve had cats go into insulin shock or hypoglycemia and he did allow that it HAS happened to patients of their practice before and that it was often enough that I was NOT comfortable with his answer.

He gave me a rather affordable insulin called Vetsulin, some syringes to go with it, and assured me that we could do this.

Now, before I go further, I will say that all of the above is NOT how I got her into remission and was NOT how I got her into remission SAFELY. More on what I DID do to come! But it was enough at the time that I didn’t feel as hopeless and thought that MAYYYYBE we could handle this.

We got home that night and I figured I’d TRY to get that insulin shot into her. I didn’t want to give her the shot while she was eating and ruin her meal time. I should mention that at this point I had NEVER given a cat an injection before, or ANYBODY, for that matter. And I was a SHAKING, nervous wreck!

So, that night, I spent a half hour chasing her around with a loaded insulin needle, grabbing her, torturing her, and making her go hide from me. I had broken the trust that took me 18 months of being her mommy to establish to begin with. And I was a freaking WRECK. I remember flipping out and going outside while yelling that we were just going to have to put her to sleep then.

And I was HEARTBROKEN.

The next morning, I tried again while she was eating her breakfast. And I was PRETTY SURE I got the insulin IN her! She’s a Maine Coon, after all, and when you’re inexperienced and she has ALL that LOOONG hair, there’s the possibility for error.

But then something happened. She was lethargic ALL DAY. Slept in the top of the cat condo and was OUT of it. She did get up to eat when it was meal time but then would go crap RIGHT back out. I hadn’t made any food changes yet, so she was eating higher carb foods.

Knowing what I know now, I’m willing to bet everything I’ve ever worked for that she had a mild hypoglycemic episode. And because she was still on high carb kibble and low carb wet food, it’s probably what saved her life that day.

BECAUSE I BLINDLY SHOT INSULIN WITHOUT HOME TESTING OR EVEN KNOWING HOW TO HOME TEST HER FIRST.

So, for the rest of that weekend, I did not give her more insulin. And I spent the ENTIRE weekend, except for sleeping, GLUED to the computer learning EVERYTHING I could. I joined the message board and corresponding Facebook group. They gave me a shopping list, told me the best insulin to use, that I could home test and that it would be no big deal once we got used to it.

I read the stories. One I will share with you in a future post from my friend Susan, who’s cat DID, in fact, “hypo” (meaning went into insulin shock) and was never the same again. His name was Baxter. And even though Baxter lived clear across the country, I love that cat. Because his story saved Penny’s life. He will forever have a place in my heart!

Baxter learning how to walk again

My friend Susan’s cat, Baxter, learning how to walk again as he started to recover from insulin shock.

I will also share with you what we did, how we did it, how I trained her for all of this so that it was no big deal and even trained her to look forward to testing her blood glucose with a little bit of bribery!

I really felt like it was the end of the world when Penny was diagnosed with feline diabetes. I didn’t know HOW I was going to handle it all. I was so freaking overwhelmed that first week or so that I had the case of the “F it…she’s going to die!” MANY times. I woke up in the morning and my heart would SINK when I realized that this wasn’t just a nightmare. This was our life now.

And I HAD to fight for her. I couldn’t look into those big, round green eyes and let her down. The rescue allowed me to adopt her because they KNEW I would do right by her. NO FREAKING WAY could I let Penny down.

penny-otj-may-26-16-2

Penny the day she achieved her second remission from diabetes. OTJ means “off the juice” or off insulin. She was NOT letting me stick her party hat on her head! lol

And that’s what got me through in the beginning.

I can honestly say, 3 1/2 years later, that all the stuff we had to learn to do…the testing, the shots, “tight regulation”, remission, relapse, remission again, blood glucose curves…all the stuff that I didn’t even understand at first…is just now an intrinsic part of my thinking and just the routine of the day. I can do this stuff without even thinking about it now!

And so can Penny!

My hope is that my posts about Penny’s journey with diabetes will keep another diabetic cat from being dumped off at a shelter. My hope is that Baxter’s story will keep another diabetic cat from going into insulin shock. If we help just ONE cat with our stories, our job is WELL DONE!

Stay tuned!

And please SHARE if you know anybody who has a diabetic cat! Please encourage them to get in touch with me on this blog or on our Facebook “like” page. I will be MORE than willing to help them help their furkid!

Feline Diabetes or Any Other Condition-Beware of Bad Advice from Unexperienced and Unqualified Crackpots

This is a rant.

Some of you who know me on Facebook know that I when I feel STRONGLY about something, I RANT.

Meet Jersey Robyn… lol

Penny OTJ blood reading may 2016

Penny and her blood glucose reading that marked her “official” second remission from Feline Diabetes on May 23, 2016!

Today is the start of Daylight Savings Time and one of my Facebook friends, who has five diabetic cats, was posting that she was all confused from the time change. When you have a diabetic cat who gets insulin injections twice per day, 12 hours apart, time changes can get confusing.

It can give a diabetic pet parent a REAL headache.

So somebody chimes in on her thread that he has a “solution” for cat diabetes and attaches a link for some herbal supplement company.

The supplements are marketed to humans.

So I IMMEDIATELY jumped all over this guy and hijacked my friend’s thread. Because there is no such thing that has been clinically proven to “solve” Feline Diabetes. I’m very well entrenched in the feline diabetes community and stay very up to date. If there was some miracle herb out there to “solve” it (yes…notice the snotty quotation marks), I would KNOW about it.

I asked him where the clinical trials were or what his qualifications were.

His response? “u have no idea, REALLY, how this stuff works. I took their turmeric cucomin for several days and was able to stop taking morphine after 14 yrs. they have their own way to push into the bloodstream which makes it immediate, and i will bet one of the 31 disaease it cures is cat diabetes, cause it works on humans.”

Yes, I even kept his typos in…lol

So THIS is what qualifies him to offer a “SOLUTION” to Feline Diabetes??!! That he’s “WILLING TO BET” it would cure cat diabetes because of his own experience with a COMPLETELY UNRELATED CONDITION??!!

So I asked again about clinical trials specific to cats with Feline Diabetes.

And he replied by yelling at me to check with the company. Like, Facebook yelling. You know, like TYPING IN ALL CAPS!!

This concerns me because what if I didn’t know any better and withheld much-needed medical treatment, PROVEN treatment, for my diabetic cat because I didn’t know any better based on this guy’s “solution”?

Because when Penny was first diagnosed, and I was BESIDE myself wondering how the hell I was gonna give my, ah, “diva” insulin injections twice per day without ending up in the hospital myself, I may have been willing to try this “miracle cure” out of fear and overwhelm!

Let me be clear. If there is a natural solution out there to put a BIG ASS dent in Big Pharma’s pockets, I’m ALL OVER IT. Some of my OWN medical conditions have been solved by natural products and super foods. I’m not debating the efficacy of natural vs Big Pharma and the medical community.

And you will find after getting to know me and as I delve into the wonderful world of Feline Diabetes, Feline Chronic Kidney Disease, Fatty Liver disease, and a few other things on this blog, that I always STRONGLY recommend that you do your research and talk to lay people, when possible, rather than blindly listening to a vet’s advice.

Because bad advice from several vets, and one vet office who accidentally dispensed a medication that Penny shouldn’t have had, would have killed Penny YEARS ago if I wasn’t smart enough to do my own research and talk to lay people who have BEEN there! And even then, I took their recommendations to my vet and discussed with him before starting ANY treatment regimen.

But, WORSE advice from some person on Facebook who doesn’t have the first shittin’ clue what he’s talking about is even MORE DANGEROUS!

And, my promise is that you will ALWAYS see a medical disclaimer on the bottom of any post where I discuss any treatments for my cats and their various ailments! Because I am responsible and not a know-it-all.

Feline Diabetes is a complex disease with several potential different causes. We will get into what I’ve done with MY cat to get her into remission not once, but twice, in future posts.

But I cannot even possibly stress in text, so imagine me standing from a rooftop of a high rise with a megaphone with my LOUD Italian voice, screaming at the top of my lungs…

PLEASE DO NOT BLINDLY TAKE ADVICE FROM SOME DUDE (OR DUDETTE) ON FACEBOOK WHEN TREATING ANY DISEASE OR CONDITION THAT YOUR CAT HAS!! Or from any company or network marketing distributor. Especially a network marketing distributor who is not otherwise qualified to give medical or veterinary advice! (I’m in the field and I can say this! lol)

Penny christmas 2016

Penny enjoying her new bed Santa brought her for Christmas.

Our babies’ lives DEPEND on us! They are our kids, after all!

 

**All treatments mentioned in this blog are based on my own research, experience and done with my vet’s knowledge and consent. Consult with your vet as necessary.**

A Day in the Life of a Cat Servant

“My mother had not had a hot meal for herself in 15 years…” – Ralphie, “A Christmas Story”.

I can relate.

How is it that I have LESS personal time NOW than I did when I was married with joint custody of two step kids, two cats, and managed a staff of 25 at Commerce Bank?

Oh, that’s right…I have a hell of a lot more than two cats now.

servant-to-rascal

Serving Rascal treats on a Silver Platter.

And it’s a good thing I work from home. Or, rather, I get brief “power hours” to squeeze in work in between cat servantry.

Here’s what a typical day at Cats Rule Here looks like!

I cannot sleep in. Although my cats “let” me to a point, if I’m not up by 7am, Patchy comes to “visit”. And my eyes will peep open. And I roll over to go back to sleep but I think of the STARVING orphans outside whose food was stolen overnight by the Creatures of the Night that GUILT prevents me from snoozing for more than a few minutes.

So I get up, and after explaining to Penny, who is a social eater so will starve all night rather than eat when I’m not sitting RIGHT there next to her, that I have to “pee like a racehorse”, I do my business and then go sit on the floor next to her so that she can eat her crunchies.

servant-to-penny2

This is my view every morning while impatiently longing for the coffee that just brewed.

After she’s done, I am now “allowed” to pour myself a cup of coffee.

But…

Oh wait! Princess Penny wants water out of the bathtub now! Even though she has a ceramic cat fountain and five, yes count them, FIVE, other water bowls in the house, she MUST have bathtub water! And because she’s stage 4 kidney disease, she pretty much gets what she wants.

Then I finish preparing my cup of coffee. And I start to prep the food to take outside to the feral cats.

But…

Oh wait! Penny wants crunchies again! Because she can only eat four pieces at a time! She convinces me that “grazing” is good for weight management. Which is why she’s overweight despite being stage 4 kidney disease!

After greeting the other indoor kits, and making sure Penny is squared away with food and water to “hold her over” till breakfast, I make a quick escape outside as soon as little Bossy Poo isn’t paying attention.

And I’m greeted by Trouble, Oreo, and Fluffy coming out of the shed and Big Orange coming out of his heated shelter under my back steps.

After tripping over Trouble zig-zagging between my feet for the 25′ walk from my back steps to the shed door, I finally make it in there in one piece and silently thank Tony Horton for incredible balance from doing P90X Yoga.

I prepare their food. Then I take care of Orange, the feeding station at the back of my yard for the more shy ferals, and back to the shed to syringe Trouble his L-Lysine supplement in a tasty base of Fancy Feast broths. Which are NOT cheap. But he enjoys it and I do realize a feral cat is ALLOWING me to squirt medicine in his mouth via syringe, after all!

I finally get back inside to the Indoor Masters…after spending a half hour with the Outdoor Masters because Miss Fluffy is ALSO a social eater so I must stand out in that shed regardless of the weather so that she can finish eating…MUST cuddle Oreo exactly 2 1/2 minutes and I’d BETTER have some treats for him…and change the water bowl in the shed since the raccoons like to use their water bowl as a dipping bowl overnight.

me-n-fluffy-selfie

Feeding Her Magestette ON her heating pad so she doesn’t have to eat on the cold floor.

So, now to feed the Innies their wet food. Which means watering down Penny’s food and sprinkling the kits’ wet food with freeze dried raw or else they won’t eat it. And will look at me with sad, sad, sappy eyes because I didn’t feed them EXACTLY what they want the way they want it!

Once they are finally done, I am now allowed to wash their food bowls and prepare Penny’s AM blood pressure pill. Which means MORE Fancy Feast broth (yes, I realize I should buy stocks in Purina) as a treat after her pill because that is the ONLY way Penny will allow me to shove a pill down her throat!

Oh, and Penny wants more crunchies again!

After she is done with me for the moment, I must prepare “cheesy snacks”. Which is Penny’s B-complex wrapped in Laughing Cow cheese and Mischief’s Prozac (more on that to come) wrapped in the cheese so that pilling Mischief is a TREAT and not a tragedy…for ME, that is. Once they get their cheesy snacks and I give Penny extra cheese off my fingers because she has been in her ‘last days’ for the past 12 months and I will do whatever she wants, I go outside to change the rest of the water bowls for the ferals, give out more free treats (in case anybody is wondering why I have the fattest feral cats in town), cuddle Oreo and Trouble some more and I MUST sing to Fluffy or else she will not let me leave without taking a chunk out of my ankles.

So, finally, after coming inside to scoop the litter boxes…

But, wait! Patchy wants to cuddle, climb me like a jungle gym and lick my pants first!

So, after REALLY FINALLY scooping the litter boxes, I have to weigh Penny and see if it’s okay to give her sub q fluids (again, the kidney disease), warm her fluids, change the five water bowls throughout the house, top off the five crunchy bowls throughout the house, and THEN, after singing The Penelope Song to Penny while she gets her fluids, the next couple of hours are mine.

Unless Spunky wants to help me work out. Or if it’s the day I have to test Penny’s blood glucose (more on her diabetes and remission to come…). But only AFTER Rascal sits in my lap for 5-10 minutes while I sing to HIM. And I must be careful not to scare Mischief while I’m exercising since he likes to sit on my bed and watch. Which means not jumping too much and OMG NO I CANNOT drop the weights!

I get a little time to feed myself and work…

So, it’s now 4-5pm and it’s time for their next wet meal! I don’t overfeed my cats. They get several mini-meals throughout the day to keep Penny’s blood glucose levels stable even though she is currently in remission from her diabetes. But, God forbid I feed Penny and NOT feed the others! So mini-meals it is!

Then it’s BACK OUTSIDE to the feral cats for their evening meal. Which they hardly eat anything because they had been free-fed all day, but since the Creatures of the Night will come steal their food overnight, I must make sure. And NO MATTER THE WEATHER, I must play with Trouble. Although, he’s SOL if there’s lightning around.

Then it’s back inside to REALLY bang out some work for two hours. But ONLY AFTER Penny has some crunchies again…and then I MUST sit on the couch in the living room on my laptop to work so that Penny can take a nap next to me. And if I don’t, you ask?

She will take one of her fuzzy balls in her mouth and wander around the house howling loudly until I do what she wants me to do.

In the evening, when I’m done my “to do” list for work, I SNEAK into the shower while all the cats are passed out…but if they CATCH me, I have to distract them with toys so I can lock myself into the bathroom and shower, unsupervised.

Then it’s time for more Fancy Feast broth and Penny’s Pepcid (kidney disease). Which she BEGS for because the broths are “forbidden food”.

8pm meal time is usually pretty quick because by now, they are ready for evening play time. And if I have more work to do, or just tired or, God forbid, sick, it doesn’t matter. They will hover UNDER FOOT while I’m scooping their litter boxes once more until they ALL get some interactive play time with Mommy, and sometimes Grandmom. Even though they have EACH OTHER to play with! And even though they often blatantly YAWN in my face or Mom’s face while we knock ourselves out to entertain them!

Then, and only then, after they are spent, I’m “allowed” to eat. Although, Penny usually wants water or crunchies or attention JUST when I’m fixin’ to sit down to eat. Hence the quote at the beginning of this post.

Bedtime is time for Penny’s Renadyl and Renakare mixed in to food (again, for the kidney disease), and time to put Mischief in his room since he’s not 100% fully integrated into Gen Pop just yet. After I hook Penny up with some tuna water and prepare her Snuggie next to my bed, and if Penny is not in one of her attention-hogging moods, I’m allowed to settle down and do some reading or watch “The King of Queens” before retiring for the night.

I doze off while listening to Rascal run around for NO GOOD reason chatting it up, hoping to get one of the girls to play with him.

Oh! Gotta go! I’m LATE for Penny’s pill and she’s practically doing cartwheels at my feet to get my attention!

Meet Fluffy-The Kits’ Mama Cat & All About My Crash Course in “TNR”

I was warned.

By lots of people.

Actually SCOLDED on Facebook.

Why?

Because I was feeding feral cats and not doing TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return).

And I ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS, and my folks ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS…spayed or neutered our pets as soon as they were “old enough”.

The first time I saw Fluffy, she was eating under my back steps and my feral cat, Tiggy, chased her out and a fight ensued.

I praised Tiggy for chasing the “stranger cat” away (even though Tiggy is a TRUE feral and to this very day, three years later, is still afraid of me!)

Now, knowing what I know, and loving Fluffy AND the kittens she was pregnant with at the time, I feel REALLY bad about that!

fluffy-and-hitler-5-20-15

Fluffy with one of the ‘suspect’ kit Daddy Cats, Hitler.

The next time I saw Fluffy, she was with one of my regular feral cats, Hitler, who was “showing her around”. He would bring her to eat, show her how to drink out of the bird bath, and would protect her while she was eating.

Me, having NO idea she was pregnant because I ALWAYS spayed my pet cats, thought, “Awww…how sweet. He’s taken this kitten under his wing!”

HA! #sillygirl

She WAS just a kitten then. Maybe only 6-9 months old? And she was blowing through SIX cans of Fancy Feast per day, so I figured she was “still growing”.

Well…yeah! I was right about THAT, at least!

They chummed around every day and left together. Every morning he would wait for her to arrive so she could eat me out of house and home!

Imagine MY surprise when I saw two orange and white, 1-month old kittens, in my shed around June 21st?

The next day, we had a thunderstorm blow through that was SO bad, it took three days for the National Weather Service to determine that it was actually NOT a tornado, but a microburst. This storm knocked out power in MOST of South Jersey for 5-8 days.

In that time, I had brought my cat Penny’s insulin to my neighbors, because they were running a generator out of their garage and it needed to be refrigerated. That’s when I found out that Fluffy and Hitler had kittens. Four, to be exact. Two orange and white kittens, one who looked like Fluffy, and one who looked like Hitler.

I had been HAD. #chump

The neighbors told me that the kittens and Fluffy were living in their broken-down barn, and even though they weren’t “cat people”, they thought it was cute watching the kittens frolic in their backyard and watching her teach the kittens how to hunt.

My next thought was that I HAD to find rescue for these kittens. I just HAD to give them a chance. But it was at the height of a VERY bad kitten season. I must have contacted over TEN rescues in my area and nobody could help. And I knew that dropping those kits off at a shelter would likely be a death sentence.

Luckily, my neighbors were totally cool about the kittens living there and eventually the kittens ended up moving over here. I did assure them that I was going to try to find homes for the kittens and neuter everybody else, because the neighbor did mention she wasn’t sure what she was going to do yet but maybe she would take the kittens to a shelter. So I took over to make sure that wouldn’t happen.

In the meantime, I could not find them homes. And my baby cat, Weeny, who was coming up on her 4th birthday, was diagnosed with a rare (for cats) and malignant mast cell cancer. We figured it out AFTER it had already spread to her lymph nodes.

After Weeny passed in September, I ended up rescuing the kittens. Read their stories here: Meet The Kits

In the meantime, Fluffy and her kits had gone missing in mid-August for three days, at which time my mom and I went into a panic and decided to go for a hike in the ACRES of woods behind our house to try and find them. We didn’t find the kits, but we DID end up with the absolute WORST case of chiggers known to man. Rule #1: Never go hiking in mid-August in the woods in the Wharton State Forest!

Fluffy and the kits came back that evening. AFTER we got chiggers!

Soon after they returned, Fluffy started to distance herself from the kittens. She would eat and hang out in alternate places. I had to put food in other places besides the regular feeding stations I had set up outside. And she was eating enough to choke a horse again..

UH OH…Now I’m smarter. I KNEW what THAT meant.

I was SO terrified of TNR because I was afraid someone would get hurt, or they’d never return again, or someone would die at my hands. But I had to do SOMETHING.

So I made the appointment, talked to my friend Dana, who lent me her humane trap and came over to show me the ropes. I caught Fluffy five days after I rescued her boys.

I was a NERVOUS WRECK. I knew a spay/abort was risky. But it was the end of September. Winter was coming. And I was out of resources to help her new litter. It was a VERY tough decision for me so please don’t judge. I prayed to God and St Francis to forgive me. I talked to MANY people and looked up lots of advice from the experts. And while I was driving Fluffy to AWA, I was apologizing to her and begging for her forgiveness.

From what I understand, cats are not bonded to their unborn kittens. They only become bonded once they give birth. And I could not allow those four kittens to be born and have to tough out Winter while I had no more resources to help them.

We set up Fluffy’s recovery area in my friend Dana’s secure garage, in a secure dog pen, with a little feral cat den, somewhere for her to go to the bathroom, and eat. We had planned on keeping her for at least three days to recover.

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Fluffy, the day of her surgery, when Dana first found blood.

But, Dana called me later that night. She found blood. LOTS of it. And more the next day.

So, I had to bring her back for a second surgery. When I went to Dana’s to pick her up, even though she was hissing and spitting, as soon as she heard my voice, she went from growling to squeaking because she recognized me. That just BROKE my heart. What if she died? I could never live with myself…

I spoke with the doctor at AWA that day and she was further along in her pregnancy than originally thought, and they didn’t suture something inside correctly because there was a lot of blood. They fixed her up, gave her an antibiotic injection, pain injection, and instructed me to hold her at least five days because she lost a lot of blood and was slightly anemic.

I was beside myself with guilt and heartbreak. My very first TNR and I almost killed this precious baby…

BUT…she recovered BEAUTIFULLY. And once I released her, she returned five days later like nothing had happened.

And, after another nine months of her only coming to eat and living somewhere else, and sometimes going missing for up to four days at a time, she decided that she liked it here and would live in my shed and backyard “full time”.

And after another couple of months, she started to rub against my legs. Now, she lets me pet her, but ONLY while she’s eating. And sometimes scratches me when I give her treats.

But, she will also sit on my foot when I’m ready to leave the shed because she does not want me to leave her. And she’s a “social eater”, so I have to stand there, NO MATTER THE WEATHER, while she eats her crunchies.

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And you thought I was lying about her sitting on my foot so I wouldn’t leave!

She is happy, healthy, and LOVED today. I hope to one day bring her inside, when she is ready, and when her bonded protector, Oreo, passes on. But, she’s living a better life than she probably EVER imagined, and she never has to worry about taking care of anybody else besides herself EVER again!

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From hardened feral cat to spoiled princess on her heating pad in my shed.

NICKNAMES: Fluffalufficus, Pretty Little Princess, Witchy-Poo, Bitch (when she swats at me lol), Boss Lady, Bossy Paws, Squeaks

Meet The Kits

“The Kits” are actually 1 1/2 years old as of this post. Their mama, Fluffy, is one of my feral cats who lives in my shed and backyard. She showed up here pregnant with them in May, 2015. Unbeknownst to me that she was pregnant because I ALWAYS spayed/neutered my cats, so I thought she was just a kitten with a voracious appetite! Meet Fluffy here! All About Fluffy

Until I saw two little 1-month old orange and white kittens in my shed around June 21, 2015. Who nearly killed themselves trying to get out of the shed when I walked in.

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Mischief (L) & Rascal (R)-4 months old just after I rescued them.

RASCAL & MISCHIEF

Rascal is the friendly one. I never planned on ever petting or rescuing any feral cats. My theory was that they were too wild to be tamed, too bonded with their land to be brought inside, and should be left alone. Until I met Rascal.

He was the first to rub against my leg at feeding time… even with his mama in the shed with us…and I was so terrified that she would attack me because he was chumming up to me! He would stay behind after breakfast, after his mama and siblings left and went about their day, and would wait for me to come out to mooch seconds, get some free cuddles from me and to play with me.

He was a TRUE mama’s boy and wherever you saw Fluffy, he wouldn’t be far behind.

When his mama got pregnant again, she started to avoid her kits. One day, just after Weeny (more to come on Weeny) passed away, and I had already been toying with the idea of rescuing him, he ran up to his mama and she FLAT OUT rejected him and ran away. That’s when I made my move because I was SO heartbroken for him.

So, I went inside, got the carrier, set it down in the shed and he immediately walked into the carrier and into his New Life!

Rascal’s Nicknames: Captain Friendly, Captain Freckles, Moochie, Rascally Rascal

Rascal’s Song: “Let the Sunshine In” – Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm, The Flintstones

MISCHIEF is definitely the most “feral” of all the kits. He’s Rascal’s partner in crime and bonded brother. What I figured out later was that Rascal is the ringleader and Mischief is just his innocent follower. I was barely able to pet him before I rescued him. Once I brought Rascal inside, he started to let me pet him and would cuddle up to me for food.

I had no intentions of rescuing Mischief because I just felt he would be better off living his feral life. Two days after I rescued Rascal, though, Mischief was out there with their sisters trying to play with them and his sisters wanted NO parts of playing with him. He started to play with wet leaves under our picnic table and just looked SO forlorn I figured I just HAD to give him a shot and get him back with his brother.

So OUT came the carrier again! I set it down in the shed with some food in it and within seconds I had Mischief in the carrier and inside to Rascal’s room!

Mischief was FLIPPING OUT when I let him out of the carrier. He ran around the room in a COMPLETE PANIC and Rascal went chasing after him. When Rascal finally caught him, he nipped Mischief on the scruff of his neck, on his back, and then on the scruff of his neck again, and Mischief IMMEDIATELY calmed down and started to purr. That’s when I KNEW I did the right thing by bringing these two back together!

Mischief’s Nicknames: Captain Cuddles, Mischievous Mischy, Chet

Mischief’s Song: “I’m Not a Bad Cat” – Jackson Galaxy, My Cat from Hell theme song

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Double Trouble at about 1 year old.

PATCHY & SPUNKY

Patchy & Spunky were supposed to be TNR’ed (Trap-Neuter-Return) because I had JUST started petting them two days before I caught them for their spay surgeries. And I could ONLY pet them while they were eating. They were definitely more “shy” than their brothers and didn’t even really start to seek me out until after I rescued their brothers.

I trapped them 10 days after I brought in Mischief. I trapped them together in the same trap and brought them to AWA in Voorhees for their “Feral Fix It”, where they would be spayed, ear tipped, and rabies vaxxed. I also had them give the girls their distemper vaxes…I guess maybe I knew in the back of my mind I wasn’t going to release them back outside, but in my mind, at three indoor cats, I was already “one over” what I considered to be an “acceptable” amount of indoor cats in my house before being overcrowded.

But God, St Francis, and the girlies had OTHER ideas. While they were being spayed, I was watching the weather and found out that a coastal storm was supposed to arrive the day before they were due to be released after they recovered and this storm was supposed to sit and spin over us for FIVE TO SEVEN DAYS. Now, anybody who lives on the East Coast can tell you that our coastal storms and Nor’Easters can be as bad as tropical storms and even hurricanes sometimes.

So how was I to release two 4- month old kittens who just had total hysterectomies into THOSE conditions?

So I set up a LARGE dog pen in my bedroom, fully equipped with a “feral cat den”, litter box, bed/blankets..everything they would need for an “extended stay”.

I picked them up from AWA, got them home, got Patchy into the pen, but Spunky got out when I was trying to transfer her from the carrier to the pen. She ran and hid behind my TV in the corner. Poor Patchy was LITERALLY climbing the walls to the pen, so I let her out to go be scared with Spunky.

I closed the door to my bedroom after getting everything set up, and proceeded to go outside and call my friend Dana, who was teaching me all about TNR and feral cats (I was a newbie at this point). I was in a COMPLETE PANIC because I had two feral cats “loose” in my bedroom and was afraid they would attack me if I went back in there!

Later than night, I went to check on them and see if they had eaten before I went to bed. The poor things were STILL huddled behind my TV together! I decided to sit on the floor and see if they would feel more at ease and come out to me.

Within five minutes of sitting on the floor, I kid you not, I had TWO PURRING KITTENS in my lap.

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Patchy & Spunky at 1 1/2 yrs old…because Patchy does not care that she is CRUSHING her sister!

My next thought was to post on Facebook and ask people how many indoor cats could I have before people would consider me a “hoarder”! By the next day, Mom and I had decided we could NOT let these babies back outside. And we became a five-cat family.

It has taken some time for them to adjust. In the beginning, I was worried they would never be completely at ease as indoor cats. And although Spunky is VERY shy around people she doesn’t know (she basically runs and hides), they have adjusted quite well to indoor spoiled cat life and are the most affectionate little things with SO much personality!

It’s hard to tell in some of the pics but they are both long-haired with raccoon-like tails…just like their mama. And both little beauties!

PATCHY’S Nicknames: Erica Kane (because she likes to slap all and sundry at feeding time just like her soap-opera twin, Susan Lucci), Itty Bitty, Stinklett, Patchy Watchy, Hop Along Betty, Pinky Tuscedero

SPUNKY’S Nicknames: Squeakers, Hop Along Sally, Spunk-A-Monk, Spunky Little Monkey, Spunkster, Fluffy Jr, Little Bosslady

Still working on a song for the little ladies…Stay Tuned!

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Patchy (L) & Spunky (R) at 4 months old the day after I decided they were not returning outside!

Meet Penny

I met Penny (nee Penelope) at Pet Smart when my late cat of almost 16 years, Tabby, passed away. I was heartbroken and devastated, but I had been seeing a very shy cat at Pet Smart who was not doing very well up there because she had been there most of her life and kept getting overlooked because she was so shy. I decided that since I had a home and she needed one, I wanted to meet her and see if it would be a good fit.

When I went to meet Weeny (nee Irene), Penny was looking at me with those EYES from her cage and I studiously avoided eye contact with her because I KNEW I was in trouble if I so much as LOOKED at her. I put in an adoption application for Weeny, continued to avoid eye contact, and left Pet Smart.

The next day I brought my folks to meet Weeny. I was living with them at the time and my dad had gotten very close with Tabby in the four years since I had moved back home, so I wanted them to be on board with giving Weeny a much-needed home.

THIS time, all the cats were in the room behind the cages for their “free time”. Weeny was busy playing with the other cats (she was only a 9-month old kitten) and Penny basically THREW herself at us and BEGGED us to get her OUT of there.

She made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. So a SECOND adoption application went in for Penny that day, and we adopted both kitties that week!

Penny was 3 1/2 when I adopted her from Jersey State Animal Rescue. She was one of their show cats and actually won ribbons in the Domestic Housecat Division. If you Google their logo, you will see that unique diamond face at the top of their logo. She is our retired show cat, our poster child, and our little hairy human!

Penny hasn’t had an easy life. She was bullied at the rescue. She was being bullied that second day we went back and I decided to adopt her too. And she has her issues as a result. She’s a social eater and suffers some separation anxiety. Knowing how she LOVES people, I imagine her life at the rescue was pretty lonely with being bullied and not having as much human contact as she probably craved. They did their best, I’m sure, because they take VERY good care of their cats, but that’s no replacement her very own home and her very own humans.

She thinks she’s one of US and she thinks she OWNS me. She told the animal communicator that she thinks I’m HER pet. Which I already knew! She’s most content next to me (and Mom if I’m not around) being a human and being adored 24/7! She’s charming, congenial, and VERY, VERY patient…until it comes to food!

She’s had her share of health issues over the years. In 2013 she was diagnosed with Feline Diabetes. We achieved remission in just six weeks (more to come on that…). She held remission for 14 months before she had to go back on insulin and also picked up a diagnosis of spinal arthritis along the way. She spent 10 months in glucose toxicity/insulin resistance before we got her diabetes regulated. Six months after we got her regulated, she achieved her SECOND remission from diabetes. But, unfortunately, along the way, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Chronic Kidney disease in February 2016 (more on that to come, as well).

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Penny’s SECOND “OTJ Party”…the day she was officially “off the juice” (insulin). She didn’t want to wear her party hat…lol

But that has NOT stopped her! She has been living her BEST life yet since that kidney disease diagnosis! She runs and plays like a kitten, eats enough to choke a horse, and honestly, some days if I didn’t see her litter box or her blood work results, I’d never believe she was so sick. I couldn’t have asked for ANY better quality of life for her than she’s had the past year!

Penny was sent to me to teach me SO many lessons! Not just about cat health, nutrition and care, but LIFE lessons…such as my limitations exist only in my mind, when something is THAT important to me, I’ll FIND a way to make it happen, and that I should NEVER, EVER let external forces get me down. She truly is an angel!

I don’t know what tomorrow, next week, or next month will bring, but since I thought a year ago, at best, that she would only have a couple of months left, I’m enjoying every last second of this “borrowed time” with her!

Nicknames:

Precious Pup, Smelly Penelly, Gentle Giant, Sasquatch, Boss Paws, PITA (Pain in the A$$), Diamond Girl

Songs:

“Isn’t She Lovely” – Stevie Wonder, “The Penelope Song” – John F Hooven (my dad)

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Penny, her second day in her forever home.